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Issurei Biah - Chapter Eighteen, Issurei Biah - Chapter Nineteen, Issurei Biah - Chapter Twenty

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Issurei Biah - Chapter Eighteen

1

Based on the Oral Tradition, we learned that the term zonah1 used by the Torah refers to one who is not a nativeborn Jewess,2 a Jewish woman who engaged in relations3 with a man she was forbidden to marry, violating a prohibition that is universally applicable,4 or a woman who engaged in relations with a challal5 even though she is permitted to marry him.6

Accordingly, a woman who engages in relations with an animal, even though she is liable for execution by stoning is not deemed as a zonah, nor is she disqualified from marrying into the priesthood,7 for she did not engage in relations with a man. [Similarly, when] a man engages in relations with a woman in the niddah state even though she is liable for kerait, she is not deemed as a zonah, nor is she disqualified from marrying into the priesthood, for she is not forbidden to marry him.

א

מפי השמועה למדנו שהזונה האמורה בתורה היא כל שאינה בת ישראל או בת ישראל שנבעלה לאדם שהיא אסורה להנשא לו איסור השוה לכל או שנבעלה לחלל אף על פי שהיא מותרת להנשא לו לפיכך הנרבעת לבהמה אע"פ שהיא בסקילה לא נעשית זונה ולא נפסלה לכהונה שהרי לא נבעלה לאדם והבא על הנדה אף על פי שהיא בכרת לא נעשית זונה ולא נפסלה לכהונה שהרי אינה אסורה להנשא לו:

2

Whenever a person has relations with an unmarried woman, even if she is a harlot who wantonly makes herself available to everyone, although she is liable for lashes,8 she is not deemed as a zonah, nor is she disqualified from [marrying] into the priesthood. For she is not forbidden to marry [the people with whom she engaged in relations].

[When, by contrast, a woman] engages in relations with a man with whom relations are forbidden by a negative commandment that is universally applicable - the transgression is not specific to priests - or with whom they are forbidden by a positive commandment, she is forbidden to marry him, she is a zonah.9Needless to say, [this applies if she engages in relations with a man] who is forbidden to her as an ervah, a gentile, or a servant.

ב

וכן הבא על הפנויה אפילו היתה קדשה שהפקירה עצמה לכל אע"פ שהיא במלקות לא נעשת זונה ולא נפסלה מן הכהונה שהרי אינה אסורה להנשא לו אבל הנבעלת לאחד מאיסורי לאוין השוין בכל ואין מיוחדין בכהנים או מאיסורי עשה ואין צריך לומר למי שהיא אסורה לו משום ערוה או לעכו"ם ועבד הואיל והיא אסורה לו להנשא הרי זו זונה:

3

Similarly, a female convert or a freed [maid-servant] - even if she was converted or freed when she was less than three years old10 - since she is not a native-born Jewess, she is deemed a zonah and is forbidden to [marry] a priest.

On this basis, [our Sages said: A woman who has relations with] a gentile, a netin,11 a mamzer,12 an Ammonite or Moabite convert, a first- or second-generation Egyptian or Edomite convert,13 a man with maimed testicles or a severed member,14 or a challal who has relations with a [nativeborn] Jewess causes her to be considered as a zonah and to be forbidden to [marry into] the priesthood. If she was a priest's daughter, she is disqualified from [partaking of] terumah.15 Similarly, a yevamah who engaged relations with a man other than her yevam becomes a zonah.16

An aylonit17 is permitted to [marry] a priest. She is not a zonah.

ג

וכן הגיורת והמשוחררת אפילו נתגיירה ונשתחררה פחותה מבת שלש שנים הואיל ואינה בת ישראל הרי זו זונה ואסורה לכהן מכאן אמרו עכו"ם או נתין או ממזר או גר עמוני ומואבי או מצרי ואדומי ראשון ושני או פצוע דכא וכרות שפכה או חלל שבאו על היהודית עשו אותה זונה ונפסלה לכהונה ואם היתה כהנת פסלוה מן התרומה וכן יבמה שבא עליה זר עשאה זונה והאילונית מותרת לכהן ואינה זונה:

4

When a man engages in relations with one of the shniot18or the like, e.g., a man who engages in relations with a relative of the woman with whom he performed chalitzah or with the woman he performed chalitzah, he does not caused her to be deemed a zonah. For she is not forbidden to him according to Scriptural Law, as we explained in Hilchot Yibbum.19

ד

הבא על אחת מהשניות וכיוצא בהן כגון הבא על קרובת חלוצתו או על חלוצתו לא עשה אותה זונה שהרי אינה אסורה להנשא לו מן התורה כמו שביארנו בהלכות יבום:

5

We thus learned that a woman's being deemed as a zonah is not dependent on her engaging in forbidden relations, for when a man engages in relations with a niddah or a harlot or when a woman engages in relations with an animal, the woman has engaged in forbidden relations and yet she is not deemed a zonah. When, by contrast, [a woman] marries a challal, she engages in relations that are permitted, as will be explained,20 and yet she is deemed a zonah. Thus the matter is dependent on the spiritual blemish alone. According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that the spiritual blemish comes only from a man who is forbidden to her or a challal, as we explained.

ה

הא למדת שאין היותה זונה תולה בבעילה של איסור שהרי הבא על הנדה ועל הקדשה והנרבעת לבהמה נבעלה בעילה של איסור ולא נעשית זונה ומי שנשאת לחלל נבעלה בעילה של היתר כמו שיתבאר ונעשית זונה ואין הדבר תלוי אלא בפגימה ומפי השמועה למדו שאינה פגומה אלא מאדם האסור לה או מחלל כמו שאמרנו:

6

Whenever a woman engages in relations that cause her to be deemed a zonah, she becomes disqualified as soon as the man's organ enters her21 whether she engages in relations against her will or willingly, whether in conscious violation or inadvertently, whether through vaginal or anal intercourse. [This applies] provided she is at least three years old and the man with whom she engages in relations is nine years old or more.22 Therefore when a married woman engages in adultery, whether against her will or willingly, she is disqualified from [marrying into] the priesthood.23

ו

כל הנבעלת לאדם שעושה אותה זונה בין באונס בין ברצון בין בזדון בין בשגגה [בין כדרכה בין שלא כדרכה] משהערה בה נפסלה משום זונה ובלבד שתהיה בת שלש שנים ויום אחד ויהיה הבועל בן תשע שנים ויום אחד ומעלה לפיכך אשת איש שנבעלה לאחר בין באונס בין ברצון נפסלה לכהונה:

7

When the wife of a priest is raped, [if her husband engages in relations with her afterwards,] he is punished by lashes because of her defilement. [This is derived from Deuteronomy 24:4]: "Her first husband who sent her away cannot return and take her as a wife after she has been defiled."24 All [women] were governed by the general principle: If they engaged in [adulterous] relations, they are forbidden to their husbands. The Torah singles out an exception: the wife of an Israelite who was raped.25 She is permitted to her husband, as [implied by Numbers 5:13]: "And she was not seized." The wife of a priest remains forbidden, because she is a zonah.26

ז

אשת כהן שנאנסה בעלה לוקה עליה משום טומאה שנאמר לא יוכל בעלה הראשון אשר שלחה לשוב לקחתה להיות לו לאשה אחרי אשה הוטמאה הכל בכלל שאם נבעלו אסורין על בעליהן פרט לך הכתוב באשת ישראל שנאנסה שהיא מותרת לבעלה שנאמר והיא לא נתפשה אבל אשת כהן באיסורה עומדת שהרי היא זונה:

8

When the wife of an Israelite is raped, although she is permitted to her husband,27 she is forbidden to [marry into] the prietshood.28

When the wife of a priest tells her husband: "I was raped or inadvertently, I engaged in relations with another man," or one witness testifies against her that she committed adultery whether willingly or unwillingly, she is not forbidden to him.29[The rationale is that we suspect] that perhaps she set her eyes on another [man].30 If he considers her as trustworthy, or he considers the witness as trustworthy and he accepts his word,31 he should divorce her so that there is no doubt regarding the matter.32

ח

אשת ישראל שנאנסה אף על פי שהיא מותרת לבעלה אסורה לכהונה אשת כהן שאמרה לבעלה נאנסתי או שגגתי ובא עלי אחד או שבא עד אחד והעיד לו עליה שזינתה בין באונס בין ברצון הרי זו אינה אסורה עליו שמא עיניה נתנה באחר ואם היא נאמנת לו או העד נאמן לו וסמך דעתו לדבריהם ה"ז יוציא כדי לצאת ידי ספק:

9

Although the wife of a priest who tells her husband: "I was raped," is permitted to her husband as explained, she is forbidden to any other priest33 after her husband dies.34 For she has acknowledged that she is a zonah and caused herself to be forbidden, making herself a prohibited entity.

ט

אשת כהן שאמרה לבעלה נאנסתי אף ע"פ שהיא מותרת לבעלה כמו שביארנו הרי היא אסורה לכל כהן שבעולם אחר שימות בעלה שהרי הודת שהיא זונה ואסרה עצמה ונעשית כחתיכה האסורה:

10

When a priest35 consecrates a woman, whether a minor or past majority, and afterwards engages in relations with her and claims that she had engaged in relations previously,36 she is forbidden to him because of the doubt involved:37 perhaps she engaged in relations before she was consecrated or perhaps it was afterwards.38 When, by contrast, an Israelite makes such a claim, there are two doubts involved:39 Maybe [the forbidden relations] preceded the consecration or maybe they came afterwards. Even if we say that they came afterwards, maybe she was raped or maybe she participated willingly. For a raped woman is permitted to an Israelite, as we explained.40

י

כהן שקידש גדולה או קטנה ואחר זמן בא עליה וטען שמצאה דרוסת איש נאסרה עליו מספק שמא קודם קידושין נבעלה או אחר קידושין אבל ישראל שטען טענה זו לא נאסרה עליו שיש כאן שני ספיקות שמא קודם קידושין ושמא אחר קידושין ואפילו נאמר לאחר קידושין שמא באונס שמא ברצון שהאנוסה מותרת לישראל כמו שביארנו:

11

Therefore if a girl's father consecrated her to an Israelite when she was less than three years old and [when they married, the Israelite] claimed that he discovered that she had engaged in relations previously, she is forbidden to him because of the doubt. For there is only one doubt involved: Maybe the relations were against her will41 or maybe she engaged willingly.42 When there is a doubt concerning a Scriptural prohibition involved, [we rule] stringently.

יא

לפיכך אם קדשה אביה לישראל והיא פחותה מבת ג' שנים ויום אחד וטען שמצאה דרוסת איש נאסרה עליו מספק שאין כאן אלא ספק אחד שמא באונס שמא ברצון וספק איסור של תורה לחומרא:

12

Any woman who was given [a sotah] warning43 by her husband, entered into privacy [with the man she was warned against], but did not drink the sotah waters is forbidden to [marry] a priest,44 because there is an unresolved question whether or not she is a zonah.45 [This applies] whether she did not wish to drink [the waters],46 her husband did not wish to compel her to drink the waters,47 there was testimony that prevented her from drinking,48 the warning was delivered by the court,49 or she was one of the woman who is not fit to drink.50 Whatever the reason that she did not drink, she is forbidden to [marry into] the priesthood because of the doubt [that has been created].

יב

כל אשה שקינא לה בעלה ונסתרה ולא שתת מי סוטה אסורה לכהן מפני שהיא ספק זונה בין שלא רצת היא לשתות בין שלא רצה להשקותה בין שהיתה שם עדות שמונעה מלשתות בין שקנאו לה בית דין בין שהיתה מן הנשים שאין ראויות לשתות הואיל ולא שתת מכל מקום הרי זו אסורה לכהונה מספק:

13

[The following rules apply if we] saw that an unmarried woman engaged in relations with a man who then departed. She is asked: "Who is the man with whom you engaged in relations?" If she says, "He is an acceptable man,"51 her word is accepted. Moreover, even if we see that she is pregnant and we ask her: "From whom did you conceive?" and she says, "From an acceptable man," her word is accepted and she is permitted [to marry] a priest.52

יג

פנויה שראוה שנבעלה לאחד והלך לו ואמרו לה מי הוא זה שבא עליך ואמרה אדם כשר הרי זו נאמנת ולא עוד אלא אפילו ראוה מעוברת ואמרו לה ממי נתעברת ואמרה מאדם כשר הרי זו נאמנת ותהיה מותרת לכהן:

14

When does the above apply? When the place where she engaged in relations was on a thoroughfare or in a carriage in the fields where everyone passes by,53 and most of the passersby are acceptable and most of the inhabitants of the city from which these passersby departed are acceptable. [The rationale for this stringency is that] our Sages elevated the standards required with regard to lineage54 and required two majorities.55

If, by contrast, most of the people passing by would disqualify her, e.g., they were gentiles, mamzerim, or the like, even if most of the inhabitants of the city from which they came were acceptable, we are suspect regarding her [status]. Perhaps she engaged in relations with a person who would disqualify her. Hence, the initial and preferred option is for her not to marry a priest.56 If she marries one, she need not divorce.57 [This ruling also applies] if most of the inhabitants of the locale were unacceptable even though most of the passersby were acceptable.

יד

במה דברים אמורים בשיהיה המקום שנבעלה בו פרשת דרכים או בקרנות שבשדות שהכל עוברין שם והיו רוב העוברים שם כשרים ורוב העיר שפרשו אלו העוברין ממנה כשרים שהחכמים עשו מעלה ביוחסין והצריכו שני רובות אבל אם היו רוב העוברים פוסלים אותה כגון עכו"ם או ממזרים וכיוצא בהם אף על פי שרוב המקום שבאו ממנה כשרים או שהיו רוב אנשי המקום פסולין אע"פ שרוב העוברין שם כשרים חוששין לה שמא למי שפוסל אותה נבעלה ולא תינשא לכהן לכתחלה ואם נשאת (לא) תצא:

15

If we saw that she engaged in relations in a city or she became pregnant in a city, [more stringent rules apply]. Even if there was only one gentile, challal, servant, or the like58 dwelling in the city, the initial and preferred option is that she not marry a priest. [The rationale is that] whenever entities are in their permanent locale, [probability is not taken into consideration. Instead, all doubts] are considered as equally balanced.59 If she already married [a priest], she need not be divorced because she says: "I engaged in relations with an acceptable man."60

טו

ראוה שנבעלה בעיר או נתעברה בעיר אפילו לא היה שוכן שם אלא עכו"ם אחד או חלל אחד ועבד וכיוצא בהן הרי זו לא תנשא לכתחלה לכהן שכל הקבוע כמחצה על מחצה הוא ואם נשאת לא תצא הואיל והיא אומרת לכשר נבעלתי:

16

When a woman is dumb, deaf,61 she says: "I don't know the identity of the man with whom I engaged in relations," or she was a minor that cannot differentiate between a man who is acceptable and one who is not, she is considered as a zonah of questionable status.62 [After the fact,] if she married a priest, she must be divorced63 unless there is a twofold majority of men with whom she could have engaged in relations that are acceptable.64

טז

היתה אלמת או חרשת או שאמרה איני יודעת למי נבעלתי או שהיתה קטנה שאינה מכרת בין כשר לפסול הרי זו ספק זונה ואם נשאת לכהן תצא אלא אם כן היו שני הרובין המצויין אצלה כשרים:

17

When a woman taken captive is redeemed and she is three years old or more,65 she is forbidden to [marry] a priest, because there is a question whether she is a zonah. Perhaps a gentile engaged in relations with her.

If there is a witness that a gentile did not enter into seclusion with her, she is acceptable to the priesthood.66 Even a servant, a maid-servant, or a relative67 is acceptable with regard to this testimony. [Moreover,] when two women who were taken captive give testimony on behalf of each other, their word is accepted.68[The rationale is] that all the prohibitions involving questionable situations are of Rabbinic origin.69 Therefore they ruled leniently with regard to a woman taken captive.

יז

השבויה שנפדית והיא בת ג' שנים ויום אחד או יתר אסורה לכהן מפני שהיא ספק זונה שמא נבעלה לעכו"ם ואם יש לה עד שלא נתייחד העכו"ם עמה הרי זו כשרה לכהונה ואפי' עבד או שפחה או קרוב נאמן לעדות זו ושתי שבויות שהעידה כל אחת מהן לחבירתה הרי אלו נאמנות הואיל ואיסור כל הספיקות כולן מדברי סופרים לפיכך הקלו בשבויה:

18

Similarly, a minor who states [that a woman was not touched by her captors] in the course of conversation.70 An incident occurred with regard to a child who was captured together with his mother. In the course of conversation, he said: "My mother and I were captured by the gentiles. When I went out to draw water from the well, I was thinking about my mother. [When I went] to gather wood, I was thinking about my mother." Our Sages [permitted] her to marry a priest because of his words.71

יח

וכן קטן שהיה מסיח לפי תומו נאמן מעשה באחד שנשבה הוא ואמו ובנה מסיח לפי תומו ואמר נשבינו לבין העכו"ם אני ואמי יצאתי לשאוב מים ודעתי על אמי ללקוט עצים ודעתי על אמי והשיאו אותה חכמים לכהן על פיו:

19

A husband's word is not accepted if he testifies72 that his wife who was taken captive was not defiled.73 Similarly, her maid-servant may not testify on her behalf.74 A maid-servant belonging to her husband, however, may testify on her behalf. And statements made by her maid-servant in the midst of conversation are accepted.75

יט

אין הבעל נאמן להעיד באשתו השבויה שלא נטמאה שאין אדם מעיד לעצמו וכן שפחתה לא תעיד לה אבל שפחת בעלה מעידה לה ושפחתה שהיתה מסיחה לפי תומה נאמנת:

20

When a priest testifies that a woman who had been taken captive is pure, he may not marry her. [We suspect that] he focused his attention on her.76 If he redeemed her and testified on her behalf, he may marry her, for if he did not know that she was pure, he would not have paid money on her behalf.77

כ

כהן שהעיד לשבויה שהיא טהורה הרי זה לא ישאנה שמא עיניו נתן בה ואם פדאה והעיד בה הרי זה ישאנה שאילו לא ידע שהיא טהורה לא נתן בה מעותיו:

21

When a woman says: "I was taken captive, but I am pure," her word is accepted. [The rationale is] that the mouth that forbid her granted her license.78[This applies] even if there is one witness who testifies that she was taken captive.79 If, however, there are two witnesses who testify that she was taken captive, her word is not accepted unless one person testifies that she is pure.

If there were two witnesses who testified that she was taken captive, one witness who testifies that she was defiled and another who contradicts his statements and testifies that she is pure and that a gentile did not enter into seclusion with her until she was redeemed, she is permitted.80 [This applies] even if the one who testifies that she is pure is a woman or a maid-servant.

כא

האשה שאמרה נשביתי וטהורה אני נאמנת שהפה שאסר הוא הפה שהתיר אפילו היה שם עד אחד שמעיד שהיא שבויה אבל אם יש שם שני עדים שנשבית אינה נאמנת עד שיעיד לה אחד שהיא טהורה היו שם שני עדים שנשבית ועד אחד מעיד שנטמאת ואחד מכחיש אותו ומעיד לה שהיא טהורה ולא נתייחד עמה עכו"ם עד שנפדית אפילו זה שמעיד שהיא טהורה אשה או שפחה הרי זו מותרת:

22

When a woman stated: "I was taken captive, but I am pure," and a court granted her license to marry [a priest], she may marry [one] as an initial and preferred option. Her license is not revoked [even if] afterwards two witnesses come and testify that she was taken captive.81 Even if her captor enters afterwards and we see that she is a captive under his dominion, her license [to marry a priest] is not revoked. We provide her with protection until she is redeemed.82

כב

מי שאמרה נשביתי וטהורה אני והתירוה בית דין להנשא ואח"כ באו שני עדים שנשבית הרי זו תנשא לכתחלה ולא תצא מהיתרה ואפילו נכנס אחריה שבאי והרי היא שבויה לפנינו ביד אדוניה הרי זו לא תצא מהיתרה שהתירוה ומשמרין אותה מעתה עד שתפדה:

23

If two witnesses came and stated that [a woman] was defiled, even if she had married and even if she bore children [to her husband, the priest], she must be divorced.83 If one witness came and testified [that she was defiled], his testimony is of no consequence.84

If the woman says, "I was taken captive, but I am pure, and I have witnesses that I am pure," we do not say: "Let us wait until the witnesses come." Instead, we grant her license [to marry into the priesthood] immediately. Moreover, even if a rumor is circulated that there are witnesses that she was defiled,85 we grant her license [to marry into the priesthood] until the witnesses come. [The rationale is that] we are lenient with regard to a woman taken captive.

כג

באו לה שני עדים אחר כך שנטמאת אפילו נשאת ואפילו היו לה בנים הרי זו תצא ואם בא עד אחד אינו כלום אמרה נשביתי וטהורה אני ויש לי עדים שאני טהורה אין אומרין נמתין עד שיבואו העדים אלא מתירין אותה מיד ולא עוד אלא אפילו יצא עליה קול שיש עליה עדי טומאה מתירין אותה עד שיבואו שבשבויה הקלו:

24

When a father states: "I consecrated my daughter and I had her divorced,"86 [as long as] she is a minor," his word is accepted.87 "I consecrated my daughter and I had her divorced while she was a minor," when she is past majority, his word is not accepted with regard to her being considered as a divorcee.88

[When he says,] "She was held captive and I redeemed her," his word is not accepted whether she is a minor or past majority. For the Torah deems him trustworthy only with regard to having her forbidden because of marriage, for it is written [Deuteronomy 22:16]: "I gave my daughter to this man,"89 but not to have her disqualified as a zonah.90

כד

האב שאמר קדשתי את בתי וגירשתיה והרי היא קטנה נאמן קדשתיה וגירשתיה כשהיתה קטנה והרי היא גדולה אינו נאמן להחזיקה גרושה נשבית ופדיתיה בין שהיא גדולה בין שהיא קטנה אינו נאמן שלא האמינה אותו תורה אלא לאסרה משום אישות שנאמר את בתי נתתי לאיש הזה אבל לא לפוסלה משום זנות:

25

When the wife of a priest is forbidden to him because she was taken captive, [we grant a leniency]. Since [the prohibition was instituted because] of a doubt,91 she is permitted to dwell together with him in the same courtyard, provided his children and the members of his household will always be there to watch him.92

כה

אשת כהן שנאסרה עליו משום שבויה הואיל והדבר ספק הרי זו מותרת לדור עמו בחצר אחד ובלבד שיהיו עמו בניו ובני ביתו תמיד לשמרו:

26

[The following laws apply when] a city was held under siege and conquered. If the gentiles surrounded the city from all sides so that it was impossible for [even] one woman to escape93 without being seen and placed under their dominion, all of the women in [the city] are forbidden [to marry into] the priesthood. They are considered as if they were held captive for perhaps they were raped by gentiles. [The only exception] are those less than three years old as explained.94

כו

עיר שבאה במצור ונכבשה אם היו העכו"ם מקיפין את העיר מכל רוחותיה כדי שלא תמלט אשה אחת עד שיראו אותה ותעשה ברשותן הרי כל הנשים שבתוכה פסולות לכהונה כשבויות שמא נבעלו לעכו"ם אלא מי שהיתה מבת שלש שנים ולמטה כמו שביארנו:

27

If it was possible for one of the woman to escape without being detected or there was one hiding place in the city - even if it could hold only one woman - it saves all [the women from being deemed forbidden].95

כז

ואם היה איפשר שתמלט אשה אחת ולא ידעו בה או שתהיה בעיר מחבואה אחת אפילו אינה מחזקת אלא אשה אחת הרי זו מצלת על הכל:

28

How does it save [the women from being deemed forbidden]? The word of every woman who claims "I am pure" is accepted. Since she could have said: "I escaped when the city was conquered," or "I was in a hiding place and I was saved," her word is accepted if she says: "I did not escape, nor did I hide, but I was not defiled."96

כח

כיצד מצלת שכל אשה שאמרה טהורה אני נאמנת ואף על פי שאין לה עד מתוך שיכולה לומר נמלטתי כשנכבשה העיר או במחבואה הייתי ונצלתי נאמנת לומר לא נמלטתי ולא נחבאתי ולא נטמאתי:

29

When does the above apply? With regard to a battalion from that country who settle in the city and are not afraid. Therefore we fear that they raped the women. With regard to a battalion from another country, which swept through the city, pillaged and passed on, the women are not forbidden.97 [The rationale is that] they do not have time to rape, because they are busy gathering spoil and fleeing.98 If, however, they took the women captive and they were under their dominion, they are forbidden [to the priesthood]99 even though Jews pursue [the battalion] and rescued [the women] from them.100

כט

בד"א בגדוד של אותה מלכות שהם מתיישבין בעיר ואין יראין לפיכך חוששין להם שמא בעלו אבל גדוד של מלכות אחרת שפשט ושטף ועבר לא נאסרו הנשים מפני שאין להם פנאי לבעול שהן עוסקים בשלל ובורחין להם ואם שבו נשים ונעשו ברשותן אע"פ שרדפו אחריהם ישראל והצילו אותן מידם הרי הן אסורות:

30

When a woman was imprisoned because of financial matters, she is permitted [to marry into the priesthood].101 When she is imprisoned with regard to matters involving capital punishment, she is forbidden to the priesthood.102 Therefore if her husband is a priest, she is forbidden to him.103

When does the above apply? When the Jews have power over the gentiles and they are afraid of them. When, by contrast, the gentiles are in power, even when a woman is imprisoned because of financial matters, she is forbidden since she was taken under the dominion of the gentiles104 unless there is a witness who testifies on her behalf as is the law regarding a woman taken captive, as explained above.105

ל

האשה שנחבשה ביד עכו"ם על ידי ממון מותרת ע"י נפשות אסורה לכהונה ולפיכך אם היה בעלה כהן נאסרה עליו במה דברים אמורים בזמן שיד ישראל תקיפה על העכו"ם והם יראין מהם אבל בזמן שיד העכו"ם תקיפה אפילו על ידי ממון כיון שנעשית ברשות העכו"ם נאסרה אלא אם כן העיד לה אחד כשבויה כמו שביארנו:

Footnotes
1.

The term literally means "a promiscuous woman." Halachically, however, it has a specific meaning as the Rambam continues to explain. This concept is relevant because a priest is forbidden to marry a zonah as mentioned at the beginning of the previous chapter.

2.

Even if she is a virgin, and even if she converts (Halachah 3).

3.

Even against her will. It is the fact of the relations, not her intent, that causes her to be placed in this category. See Halachot 5-6.

4.

Even a prohibition that stems from a positive commandment, as mentioned in Halachah 3.

5.

A child born from a relationship forbidden to a priest, as mentioned in Chapter 19, Halachot 5-6. As mentioned in the notes to the following halachah, the Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's view.

6.

There is no prohibition against a challal marrying any Jewish woman, even the daughter of a priest (see Chapter 19, Halachah 11).

7.

She may even marry a High Priest (if she engaged in anal intercourse with an animal), as stated in Chapter 17, Halachah 14.

8.

As stated in Hilchot Ishut 1:4.

9.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's ruling, offering a more lenient view, explaining that although a woman who enters into relations with any of the above individuals is forbidden to marry into the priesthood, these relations do not cause her to be considered as a zonah and she and a priest are not punished by lashes if they engage in relations. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 6:8) quotes the Rambam's view.

10.

At that age, even if she had engaged in relations, her hymen would regenerate and she would be considered as a virgin (Ketubot 11b). Nevertheless, she is not considered as a native-born Jewess.

The Ra'avad rules that such a woman is not considered as a zonah. Nevertheless, she is forbidden to marry into the priesthood, based on the interpretation of Ezekiel 44:22 advanced by Kiddushin 78a which states that a priest must marry only from "the seed of the House of Israel." Note the discussion of this difference of opinion by the Maggid Mishneh. See also Chapter 19, Halachah 12, which states that as long as converts marry among each other, their descendants are forbidden to marry into the priesthood.

11.

See Chapter 12, Halachot 22-23, which defines this term and the prohibition against such a man marrying a native-born Jewess.

12.

See Chapter 15 which describes the prohibition of such a man marrying a native-born Jewess.

13.

See Chapter 12, Halachot 18-21, which describes the prohibition of such converts marrying a native-born Jewess.

14.

See Chapter 16 which describes the prohibition of such a man marrying a native-born Jewess.

15.

Leviticus 22:12 states "When the daughter of a priest is [possessed] by a foreigner, she may not partake of the terumah of holiness." Yevamot 68a states: "Since she engaged in relations with someone who is forbidden to her, she is disqualified."

16.

Since she is forbidden to marry anyone other than her yevam relations with any other man cause her to be considered as a zonah.

17.

The term aylonit refers to a woman who does not have female physical characteristics. Her breasts do not protrude, she stiffens during sexual relations, and her lower abdomen does not resemble that of a woman. She is considered incapable of giving birth (Hilchot Ishut 2:4-6).

18.

These refer to distant relatives whom the Rabbis forbade as safeguards to Scriptural prohibitions. See Hilchot Ishut 1:6 for a list of these prohibitions.

19.

See Hilchot Yibbum 1:12-13 which explains that once a woman is obligated to undergo chalitzah, there is no Scriptural prohibition against engaging in relations with her or her relatives. Nevertheless, our Sages instituted these prohibitions as safeguards.

20.

Chapter 19, Halachah 16.

21.

We are translating the term heara; see Chapter 1, Halachah 10.

22.

For below these ages, any sexual contact in which these individuals engage is not significant, as stated in Chapter 1, Halachot 13-14.

23.

I.e., if the woman's husband dies after the adulterous relations without divorcing her, she may not marry a priest. Alternatively, as the Rambam continues to explain in the subsequent halachot, if she is the wife of the priest, she may not remain married to him.

24.

As the Rambam implies, the prohibition indicated by this verse is not explicitly referring to a woman married to a priest. Instead, halachically (see Hilchot Gerushin 11:14), it is interpreted as referring to all married women who are defiled by adultery. The wife of an Israelite who was raped is an exception, but not the wife of a priest.

The commentaries question the exactness of the Rambam's statements here, because in this instance two separate prohibitions - the prohibition against relations with one's defiled wife and the prohibition against a priest engaging in relations with a zonah - are involved. See the Maggid Mishneh for a discussion of the issue. See also Chapter 1, Halachah 22.

25.

See Hilchot Ishut 24:19.

26.

I.e., despite the fact that she is not held responsible for the adulterous relations, they create a spiritual blemish that prevents her from marrying a priest.

27.

For the adulterous relations were carried out against her will.

28.

After her husband dies.

29.

Testimony is not considered binding unless it is made by two witnesses. Thus the testimony of one witnesses is not of consequence. Similarly, a person's testimony cannot be used against himself. Hence, the woman's own testimony is not of consequence.

There is one instance where the testimony of one witness is significant. When the husband issued a sotah warning to his wife. See Hilchot Ishut 24:18).

30.

And seeks to be released from her husband so that she may engage in relations with him.

31.

And thus he believes that his wife committed adultery.

32.

For since he believes either his wife or the witness, he will be consenting to a transgression each time he enters into relations with her. Accordingly, he has a moral and spiritual obligation to divorce her (Maggid Mishneh to Hilchot Ishut, loc. cit.)

33.

The Beit Shmuel 6:25 states that the Rambam's ruling applies only as an initial and preferred option. After the fact, if she marries a priest, they may remain husband and wife unless he believes her statements.

34.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam, explaining that since the woman's statements were rejected, they are considered of no consequence afterwards. The Maggid Mishneh justifies the Rambam's ruling and it is accepted as law by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 6:13).

The Ra'avad's rationale is that if the woman is able to provide an satisfactory explanation why she originally stated that she was forbidden, her word is accepted, as is the case with regard to other similar situations. The Maggid Mishneh does not accept this logic. See Chelkat Mechokek 6:12 and Beit Shmuel 6:26 which discuss this issue.

35.

In contrast to an Israelite, as the Rambam continues to explain.

36.

The husband's word is accepted as stated in Hilchot Ishut 11:8-15. The rationale is that we operate on the presumption that a man will not take on the expense and trouble of making a wedding and then forfeit it because of a spurious claim.

37.

Since the doubt involves a Scriptural prohibition, we rule stringently.

38.

For if the relations took place afterwards, even if she was raped, she is forbidden to her husband as a zonah.

39.

And when there are two doubts involved, even when a Scriptural prohibition is concerned, we rule leniently.

40.

See Halachah 7.

41.

Although a minor who willfully commits adultery is not punished, she is forbidden to her husband (Chapter 3, Halachah 2).

42.

Since she was consecrated before the age of three, even if she had engaged in relations beforehand, her hymen would have regenerated. Thus there is only one doubt involved.

43.

A formal warning delivered in the presence of witnesses not to enter into privacy with a specific man (Hilchot Sotah 1:1).

44.

I.e., if her first husband dies without divorcing her.

45.

Drinking the waters would have tested her virtue. Since she did not undergo this test, the matter is unresolved and hence she is forbidden to a priest.

46.

See Hilchot Sotah 2:1, 3:2 which imply that the refusal to drink the waters is tantamount to an admission of guilt.

47.

In such an instance, the woman is forbidden to her original husband, but he must pay her the money due her by virtue of her ketubah (Hilchot Sotah 2:1).

48.

Hilchot Sotah 1:14 states that if even one witness testifies that he saw the woman commit adultery after receiving the sotah warning, she becomes forbidden to her husband.

49.

Hilchot Sotah 1:10 states that, when a husband is unable to supervise his wife's moral behavior, the court may issue such a warning on his behalf. In such an instance, however, the woman is not compelled to drink the sotah waters.

50.

Hilchot Sotah 2:2 lists fifteen women who are not given the option of drinking the sotah waters.

51.

I.e., neither a mamzer, nor a gentile, nor another individual who would disqualify her from marrying into the priesthood.

52.

This represents the legal abstract. Our Sages, however, applied stringencies as indicated by the following halachah.

53.

This factor is necessary to allow for us to apply the principle: "Whenever an entity is separated, it is considered as having been separated from the majority." When, as stated in Halachah 15, the relations occur in a place where an entity is kevua, in its fixed place, we do not follow the majority.

54.

Compare to Chapter 15, Halachah 11, which states that when the lineage of the child is involved, the woman's word is accepted even when the majority of the men are not acceptable. The rationale for the difference is that with regard to the child, there is no alternative. If the child is not deemed acceptable, he or she will not be able to marry within the Jewish people. If, however, the woman's word is not accepted, she will still be able to marry anyone other than a priest (Maggid Mishneh).

55.

I.e., instead of requiring a simple majority as is the usual standard.

56.

This ruling is cited by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 6:17). That source, however, also cites the view of the Tur and other Rishonim which maintains that if she states that the person with whom she engaged in relations are acceptable and the majority of the people are acceptable, she may marry into the priesthood at the outset. The Beit Shmuel 6:31 also cites a third, more lenient view.

57.

After the fact, we rely on the halachic abstract stated in the previous halachah. This applies even if most of the people are unacceptable (Beit Shmuel 6:32).

58.

I.e., persons who would disqualify her from marrying into the priesthood.

59.

The Kessef Mishneh explains the Rambam's ruling as follows: When the woman goes to the unacceptable man for relations, he is considered as in his established place and hence, the doubt is considered equally balanced. Even when the unacceptable man comes to the woman for relations - in which instance, he has been separated from his natural place, and hence the principles of probability should apply - we rule stringently. This is a safeguard, lest one rule leniently when the woman goes to the man.

The Tur (Even HaEzer 6) rules more leniently, maintaining that if the man comes to the woman, we follow the principles of probability. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 6:18) mentions both views without stating which one should be followed.

60.

And after the fact, we rely on her word.

61.

In these two instances, we assume that she lacks the intellectual sophistication to know the status of the man with whom she engaged in relations.

62.

In all instances, the initial and preferred option is for her not to marry into the priesthood (Maggid Mishneh). A child born from these relations is considered a mamzer of questionable status, as stated in Chapter 15, Halachah 12.

63.

Since a question of Scriptural Law which cannot be clarified is involved, we rule stringently.

64.

In such an instance, we are not concerned with the doubt because of the high probability that the man was acceptable.

65.

The minimum age from which time onward sexual relations are significant.

66.

As the Rambam proceeds to explain, since the prohibition is of Rabbinic origin, we do not follow the Scriptural requirements applying to witnesses. Therefore although ordinarily the testimony of two acceptable witnesses is required, in this instance, we accept the testimony of only one witness and moreover, accept testimony from witnesses - women, servants, and relatives - who would ordinarily be disqualified.

67.

There is a difference of opinion among the commentaries whether the testimony of a woman's son or daughter is acceptable. If they mention the matter in the course of conversation, their word is accepted as evident from the following halachah, If, however, a son or a daughter deliver testimony on their mother's behalf, most authorities maintain that the testimony is not accepted (see Chelkat Mechokek 7:1; Beit Shmuel 7:3).

68.

Even though one could argue that each one is lying on the other's behalf.

69.

Whenever there is a question whether or not a Scriptural prohibition applies, we rule stringently. This principle, however, is a point of Rabbinic Law. According to Scriptural Law, since the prohibition is not definitely established, one need not observe it.

70.

A minor is not acceptable as a witness. Nevertheless, if he makes statements in the course of his conversation which indicate that a woman - his mother or any other woman - was not molested by her captors, those statements can serve as evidence to grant the woman license to marry a priest.

The rationale is that these statements are considered to reflect the truth. We suspect that the child is telling us a representative account of what happened. Hence, since the prohibition was instituted only because of doubt, such statements are sufficient to allay our suspicions. With regard to the principle of accepting statements made in the course of conversation, see Hilchot Gerushin, Chapter 13, and commentaries.

There are authorities (Rabbenu Nissim) who maintain that a child's word is also accepted when he gives testimony directly. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:1) also quotes that view although he appears to favor the above perspective.

71.

Because the implication is that his mother was not molested.

72.

Or if he makes the statements in the course of conversation (Maggid Mishneh; Beit Shmuel 7:4). The Rama (Even HaEzer 7:2), however, mentions opinions that grant leniency when he makes such statements in the course of conversation.

73.

The rationale is based on the principle: "A person may not give testimony on his own behalf" [Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:2)].

74.

For we fear that she may lie to cover up for her.

75.

For we do not assume that she will know that these statements may be used to advance the cause of her mistress.

76.

We suspect that he desired to marry her and therefore testified that she was not defiled even though he did not have definite information to that effect. Although we enforce this stringency with regard to the priest himself, we accept his testimony with regard to others and allow her to marry another priest (Chelkat Mechokek 7:6, Beit Shmuel 7:7).

77.

For other persons might come and testify that she was defiled in which instance, he would be forced to divorce her. Hence were he not sure that the matter was true, he would not risk forfeiting his money (Ketubot 36b).

78.

We would forbid her from marrying a priest only because of her own statements and in those very statements, she maintains that she is pure.

79.

For the testimony of one witness is not halachicly significant. Based on Rashi (Ketubot 23b), the Beit Shmuel 7:8 states that this applies even if the witness testifies that the woman was defiled.

80.

The Maggid Mishneh states that this applies even if the witness who testified that she was defiled testified first. Although one might think that once the first witness testifies, her status would be established as forbidden, our Sages ruled leniently with regard to a woman taken captive.

81.

Had the witnesses made their statements first, the woman would not have been granted this license. Nevertheless, once she is given permission to marry into the priesthood, that permission is not rescinded unless there are witnesses that she was defiled.

82.

I.e., watchmen who will observe her and prevent her from being raped by her captors. Although she did not enjoy this protection beforehand, we grant it to her at present.

All of the particulars in this halachah are taken from an actual incident that took place. As Ketubot 23a relates, the daughters of the Sage Shmuel were taken captive. They were transported to Eretz Yisrael. They told their captors to wait for them outside and entered the court of Rabbi Chaninah and said: "We were taken captive, but we are pure." The Sages permitted them to marry into the priesthood.

83.

For testimony delivered by two witnesses establishes a halachic reality which must be reckoned with.

84.

The Chelkat Mechokek 7:9 and the Beit Shmuel 7:12 states that even if the witness came after she was given license to marry into the priesthood, but before she actually married, his testimony is of no consequence and the license is not rescinded. This applies even if witnesses had also come and testified that she had been held captive.

85.

The Chelkat Mechokek 7:11 quotes the Ritbah who maintains that this ruling applies even if the rumor was substantiated in court. As long as there is not actually testimony, her status remains unchanged.

86.

As is his right until she reaches maturity [Hilchot Ishut 3:11 (see also 9:10).

87.

And she is forbidden to marry into the priesthood.

88.

For his word is accepted only as long as the matter is in his hands (see Kiddushin 64a).

89.

Since he has the right to consecrate her and effect her divorce, his word is accepted with regard to her status.

90.

The Beit Shmuel 7:15 explains that we do not accept his word based on the principle of miggo. To explain: one might think that since the father's word would be accepted were he to claim that he consecrated her and had her divorced, we accept his word if he claims that she was taken captive, for had he desired to lie, he could have claimed that she was divorced. We do not follow that argument, because the statement that she was taken captive involves a more encompassing prohibition, causing her to be forbidden to partake of terumah as well as being forbidden to marry a priest.

91.

I.e., the prohibition was instituted because we suspect that she was defiled. The Beit Yosef (Even HaEzer 7) states that, based on the Rambam's statements, if there are witnesses that the woman was defiled, this leniency is not granted.

92.

And see that the couple do not engage in intimacy.

93.

This ruling (as continued in the following three halachot) reflects the Rambam's interpretation of Ketubot 27b. There are several other interpretations of that passage. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:10) quotes the Rambam's view, but also that of dissenting authorities. See also Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 12:24 which states a ruling dependent on the same passage.

94.

See Halachah 17.

95.

Even if the woman admits that she did not escape or hide, her word is accepted, based on the principle of miggo. As stated in the following halachah, had she desired to lie, instead of saying merely that she was not molested, she could have claimed to have escaped or have hidden.

96.

See the Chelkat Mechokek 7:15 which state that the Rambam's words imply that the woman must come to court and make these statements to be granted license to marry into the priesthood. They also mention Rabbenu Nissim's view that does not require this measure, but instead permits all women in these situations to marry into the priesthood automatically.

97.

As mentioned above, there are opinions that differ and maintain that even when the battalion is from another country, the women are forbidden.

98.

The Kessef Mishneh maintains that even when the conquering army is from another country, if they remain in the city for a longer period, the women are forbidden from marrying into the priesthood. We suspect that since there was no immediate pressure to flee, the soldiers may have raped the local women.

99.

As are any women taken captive by gentiles as stated above.

100.

Since our Sages forbade women taken captive, that prohibition is universally enforced, regardless of the length of time the women were in captivity (Kessef Mishneh).

101.

I.e., we do not suspect that she was raped, because the gentiles will fear to rape her lest they be forced to forfeit the money owed them [Ramah (Even HaEzer 7:11)]. These laws apply not only to jails, but instances when women are held captive by men for other reasons.

102.

I.e., we fear that she was raped by her jailers.

103.

If, however, the husband is an Israelite, there is no prohibition. We do not fear that the women would try to save her life by seducing her jailers or accepting their advances. Were that to be the case, the relations would be considered voluntary and thus she would be prohibited to her husband.

The Rambam's ruling is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:11). The Ramah quotes the opinion of Rabbenu Asher and other Ashkenazic authorities who maintain that a woman would be forbidden to even an Israelite husband for the reasons stated above. He does, however, mention more lenient views.

104.

The commentaries question if these laws apply with regard to contemporary prison conditions when it is less likely for the prison staff to ravage women held under their jurisdiction.

105.

Halachah 17.

Issurei Biah - Chapter Nineteen

1

What is meant by a challalah? [A woman] born from [relations] forbidden to the priesthood.1 Similarly, any woman who is forbidden to the priesthood who engaged in relations with a priest becomes a challalah. A priest who commits a transgression himself, however, is not deemed a challal.2

א

אי זו היא חללה זו שנולדה מאיסור כהונה וכן אחת מן הנשים האסורות לכהונה שנבעלה לכהן נתחללה אבל הכהן עצמו שעבר העבירה לא נתחלל:

2

[The above applies] whether she engaged in relations by coercion or inadvertently3 or whether it was vaginal or anal intercourse, as soon as the male organ enters her, she becomes a challalah. [This applies] provided the priest is nine years of age or older and the woman forbidden him is three years of age or older.4

ב

ובין שנבעלה באונס או בשגגה [בין כדרכה בין שלא כדרכה] משהערה בה נתחללה והוא שיהיה כהן בן תשע שנים ויום אחד ומעלה ותהיה זו האסורה לו בת שלש שנים ויום אחד ומעלה:

3

What is implied? When a priest who is nine years old engages in relations with a divorcee or with a zonah or a High Priest enters into relations with such women or with a widow, or marries a non-virgin and enters into relations with her,5 these women become challalot for all time. If they conceive a child from such relations, whether from relations with the priest who caused them to be deemed a challalah or whether with another priest, the offspring are challalim.

When, however, a priest consecrates a woman who is forbidden to the priesthood and she is widowed or divorced from the consecration, she does not become a challalah.6 If she marries, even if she does not engage in relations, she becomes a challalah even if it is discovered that she is a virgin.7

ג

כיצד כהן בן תשע שנים ויום אחד שבא על הגרושה או על הזונה וכהן גדול שבא עליהן או על האלמנה או שנשא בעולה ובא עליה הרי אלו נתחללו לעולם ואם הוליד ממנה בן בין זה שחללה בין כהן אחר הולד חלל אבל כהן שקידש אשה מאיסורי כהונה ונתאלמנה או נתגרשה מן האירוסין לא נתחללה ואם נשאת אף על פי שלא נבעלה נתחללה שכל נשואה בחזקת בעולה היא אף ע"פ שנמצאת בתולה:

4

When a High Priest marries a woman past majority or one who lost her signs of virginity through means other than intercourse, she does not become a challalah.8 Similarly, if he enters into relations with a non-virgin outside the context of marriage, she does not become a challalah.9

ד

כהן גדול שנשא בוגרת או מוכת עץ לא חיללה וכן אם בעל בעולה בלא נישואין לא חיללה:

5

When a priest engages in relations with one of the women forbidden as an ervah with the exception of a woman in the niddah state or with one of the woman who is forbidden because of a negative commandment that is universally applicable causes her to be deemed a zonah, as explained.10If he - or another priest - engage in relations with her a second time, she becomes a challalah11 and her offspring from [a priest] are challalim.

Accordingly, if a priest engages in relations with a woman who is obligated to undergo yibbum and she conceived from their first relations, the offspring is acceptable to marry into the priesthood. [The rationale is that] the prohibition [against relations with such a woman] is not restricted to the priesthood. She becomes a zonah as we explained.12 If he engaged in relations with her a second time and she conceived and gave birth, she becomes a challalah and her offspring are challalim, for [these relations]13 are forbidden exclusively to the priesthood.

ה

כהן הבא על ערוה מן העריות חוץ מנדה או על אחת מחייבי לאוין השוין בכל עשה אותה זונה כמו שביארנו חזר ובא עליה ביאה שנייה בין הוא בין כהן אחר נעשית חללה וזרעו ממנה חללים לפיכך כהן שבא על זקוקה ליבם ונתעברה מביאה ראשונה הולד כשר לפי שאינה מאיסורי כהונה ונעשית זונה חזר ובא עליה ביאה שנייה נתעברה וילדה היא חללה וולדה חלל לפי שהוא מאיסורי כהונה:

6

Similarly, when a priest engages in relations with a convert or a freed maid-servant, he causes her to become a challalah14 and his offspring from her are challalim.15 When a priest engages in relations with a woman in the niddah state, the offspring are acceptable and are not challalim. For the prohibition [against relations with] a woman in the niddah state is universally applicable and is not exclusive to the priesthood.

ו

וכן כהן הבא על הגיורת והמשוחררת חללה וזרעו ממנה חללים כהן הבא על הנדה הולד כשר ואינו חלל שאין איסור הנדה מיוחד בכהנים אלא שוה בכל:

7

When a priest marries a divorcee who is pregnant - whether with his child or that of another man - and she gives birth after she became a challalah, the child is acceptable, for it was not conceived from forbidden seed.16

ז

כהן שנשא גרושה מעוברת בין ממנו בין מאחר וילדה כשהיא חללה הולד כשר שהרי לא בא מטיפת עבירה:

8

We have already explained,17 that a woman who has undergone chalitzah is forbidden to a priest by Rabbinic decree. Therefore, when a priest engages in relations with such a woman, she becomes a challalah and her offspring, challalim. All of this is based on Rabbinic decree. When, by contrast, a priest engages in relations with one of the shniot,18 she is acceptable19 and his descendants from her are acceptable, for these prohibitions are universally applicable and are not exclusive to the priesthood.

ח

כבר ביארנו שהחלוצה אסורה לכהן מדבריהם לפיכך כהן שבא על החלוצה הרי זו חללה וזרעה מכהן חללים והכל מדבריהן אבל כהן שבא על אחת מהשניות היא כשירה וזרעו ממנה כשרים שאיסור השניות איסור השוה בכל הוא ואינו מיוחד בכהנים:

9

When a priest engages in relations with a woman whose status as a zonah is questionable, e.g., a woman concerning whose status as a convert or as a freed maid-servant is questionable, when he engages in relations with a woman whose status as a divorcee is questionable,20 or a High Priest engages in relations with a woman whose status as a widow is questionable,21 the woman is deemed as a challalah of questionable status and her offspring are considered challalim of questionable status.

ט

כהן שבא על ספק זונה כגון ספק גיורת או משוחררת או שבא על ספק גרושה וכן כהן גדול שבא על ספק אלמנה הרי זו ספק חללה וולדה ספק חלל:

10

Thus there are three categories of challalim: a challal according to Scriptural Law, a challal according to Rabbinic decree, a person whose status as a challal is a matter of question.

Anyone whose status as a challal is a matter of question must observe the severities incumbent on the priesthood and those incumbent on ordinary Israelites.22 He may not partake of terumah.23 He may not become impure due to contact with the dead24 and he must marry a woman fit to marry a priest. If he partakes of terumah, becomes impure, or marries a divorcee, he is given stripes for rebellious conduct. The same laws apply to a challal by Rabbinic decree.

When, however, a person is definitely a challal according to Scriptural Law, he is like [any other] non-priest. He may marry a divorcee and become impure due to contact with a corpse. [This is derived from Leviticus 21:1 which] states: "Speak to the priests, the descendants of Aaron." [Implied is that the prohibition that follows25 does not apply] even to the descendants of Aaron unless they are priests.

י

נמצאו החללים שלשה חלל מן התורה וחלל מדבריהם וספק חלל וכל ספק חלל נותנין עליו חומרי כהנים וחומרי ישראל אינו אוכל בתרומה ולא מטמא למתים ונושא אשה הראויה לכהן ואם אכל או נטמא או נשא גרושה מכין אותו מכת מרדות והוא הדין בחלל של דבריהם אבל חלל של תורה הודאי הרי הוא כזר ונושא גרושה ומטמא למתים שנאמר אמור אל הכהנים בני אהרן אע"פ שהם בני אהרן עד שיהיו בכיהונם:

11

A male priest who is forbidden to marry a zonah and a challalah is forbidden to marry a female convert and freed maid-servant for they are equivalent to zonot as we explained.26 A woman of the priestly family, however, is permitted to marry a challal, a convert, or a freed servant. For women of acceptable lineage were not forbidden against marrying men of unacceptable lineage.27 [This is derived from the phrase "the descendants" [- literally, the sons -] of Aaron," i.e., sons and not daughters. Thus a convert is permitted to marry a female mamzer28 and also, the daughter of a priest.

יא

כהן זכר שהוא אסור לישא זונה וחללה אסור בגיורת ומשוחררת שהיא כזונה כמו שביארנו אבל הכהנת מותרת להנשא לחלל ולגר ולמשוחרר שלא הוזהרו כשרות להנשא לפסולין שנאמר בני אהרן ולא בנות אהרן נמצא הגר מותר לישא ממזרת ולישא כהנת:

12

When converts and/or freed servants marry among themselves and give birth to a daughter - even after several generations - this daughter is forbidden to marry a priest,29 for the seed of a native-born Jew has not intermingled with them. If one married such a woman, she need not be divorced since she was both conceived and born in holiness.30 When, however, a convert or a freed servant marries a native-born Jewess or a native-born Jew marries a female convert or a freed slave, their daughter is acceptable to marry into the priesthood at the outset.

יב

גרים ומשוחררים שנשאו אלו מאלו והולידו בת אפילו לאחר כמה דורות הואיל ולא נתערב בהן זרע ישראל הרי אותה הבת אסורה לכהן ואם נשאת לא תצא הואיל והורתה ולידתה בקדושה אבל גר או משוחרר שנשא בת ישראל או ישראל שנשא גיורת או משוחררת בתו כשרה לכהונה לכתחלה:

13

When an Ammonite convert31 or a second generation Egyptian convert32 marry a native-born Jewess, the intimate relations they share involve a transgression and the women become zonot as we explained.33Nevertheless, their daughters may marry into the priesthood as an initial and preferred option.34

יג

גר עמוני שנשא בת ישראל וכן מצרי שני שנשא בת ישראל אף על פי שביאתם בעבירה והרי נשותיהן זונות כמו שביארנו בנותיהם כשרות לכהונה לכתחלה:

14

When a challal marries an acceptable woman, his descendants from her are challalim. This also applies to the son of his son's son35and indeed, even for 1000 generations. For the male son of a challal is a challal for all time. If the offspring is female, she is forbidden to marry into the priesthood, because she is a challalah.

When, however, an Israelite marries a challalah, the offspring are acceptable.36 Therefore if one of the offspring is female, she may marry into the priesthood at the outset.

יד

חלל שנשא כשרה זרעו ממנה חללים וכן בן בן בנו ואפילו אחר אלף דור שבן החלל הזכר הוא חלל לעולם ואם היתה בת אסורה היא לכהונה שהרי היא חללה אבל ישראל שנשא חללה הולד כשר לפיכך אם היתה בת הרי זו תנשא לכהונה לכתחלה:

15

Priests, Levites, and Israelites are permitted to marry among each other.37 The status of the child is determined by that of the father.38 [Similarly,] Levites, Israelites, and challalim are permitted to marry among each other and the status of the child is determined by that of the father. [This is derived from Numbers 1:18]: "And they established the lineage of their families, according to their father's household." [Implied is that] the household of one's father is one's family and not the household of one's mother.

טו

כהנים ולוים וישראלים מותרין לבוא זה בזה והולד הולך אחר הזכר (לויים וישראלים וחללים מותרים לבוא זה בזה והולד הולך אחר הזכר) שנאמר ויתילדו על משפחותם לבית אבותם בית אביו היא משפחתו ואין בית אמו משפחתו:

16

Levites, Israelites, challalim, converts, and freed servants are permitted to marry among each other. When a convert or a freed servant marries the daughter of a Levite, the daughter of an Israelite, or a challalah, the offspring is an Israelite.39 When an Israelite, a Levite, or a challal marry a female convert or a freed maid-servant, the status of the child is determined by that of the father.40

טז

לויים וישראלים וחללים גרים ועבדים משוחררים מותרים לבוא זה בזה והגר והמשוחרר שנשא לויה או ישראלית או חללה הרי הבן ישראלי וישראלי או לוי או חלל שנשאו גיורת או משוחררת הולד הולך אחר הזכר:

17

We operate under the presumption that all families are of acceptable lineage and it is permitted to marry their descendants as an initial and preferred option.41 Nevertheless, if you see two families continuously quarreling with each other, you see one family that is always involved with strife and controversy, or you see a person who frequently quarrels with people at large and is very insolent, we suspect [their lineage]. It is fitting to distance oneself from such people for these are disqualifying characteristics.

Similarly, a person who always slurs the lineage of others, casting aspersions on the ancestry of families or individuals, claiming that they are mamzerim, we are suspicious that he himself is a mamzer. Similarly, if he calls others servants, we suspect that he is a servant. For whoever denigrates others, denigrates them with a blemish that he himself possesses.

Similarly, whenever a person is characterized by insolence and cruelty, hating people and not showing kindness to them, we seriously suspect that he is a Gibeonite. For the distinguishing signs of the holy nation of Israel is that they are meek, merciful, and kind. With regard to the Gibeonites, [II Samuel 21:2] states: "The Gibeonites are not of the Jewish people." For they acted extremely brazenly and would not be appeased. They did not show mercy to the sons of [King] Saul, nor did they show kindness to the Jews to forgive the descendants of their king,42 while [the Jews] had shown them kindness and allowed them to live.43

יז

כל משפחות בחזקת כשרות ומותר לישא מהן לכתחלה ואע"פ כן אם ראית שתי משפחות שמתגרות זו בזו תמיד או ראית משפחה שהיא בעלת מצה ומריבה תמיד או ראית איש שהוא מרבה מריבה עם הכל ועז פנים ביותר חוששין להן וראוי להתרחק מהן שאלו סימני פסלות הם וכן הפוסל את אחרים תמיד כגון שנותן שמץ במשפחות או ביחידים ואומר עליהן שהן ממזרים חוששין לו שמא ממזר הוא ואם אמר להן שהם עבדים חוששין לו שמא עבד הוא שכל הפוסל במומו פוסל וכן כל מי שיש בו עזות פנים או אכזריות ושונא את הבריות ואינו גומל להם חסד חוששין לו ביותר שמא גבעוני הוא שסימני ישראל האומה הקדושה ביישנין רחמנים וגומלי חסדים ובגבעונים הוא אומר והגבעונים לא מבני ישראל המה לפי שהעיזו פניהם ולא נתפייסו ולא רחמו על בני שאול ולא גמלו לישראל חסד למחול לבני מלכם והם עשו עמהם חסד והחיום בתחלה:

18

When [the purity of] a family's [lineage] has been disputed, i.e., two individuals testify44 that a mamzer or a challal has intermingled with that family or there are servants among them,45 the matter is questionable. If the family are priests, one should not marry a woman from them until he46 investigates the lineage of four - actually eight47- of her maternal ancestors: her mother, her maternal grandmother, the mother of her maternal grandfather, the maternal grandmother of her maternal grandfather. Similarly, he must investigate the lineage of her paternal grandmother, the mother of her paternal grandmother, the mother of her paternal grandfather, and the mother of the mother of her paternal grandfather.

יח

משפחה שקרא עליה ערער והוא שיעידו שנים שנתערב בהן ממזר או חלל או שיש בהן עבדות ה"ז ספק ואם משפחת כהנים היא לא ישא ממנה אשה עד שיבדוק עליה ארבע אמהות שהן שמנה:

אמה ואם אמה ואם אבי אמה ואם אם אבי אמה וכן הוא בודק על אם אביה ואם אם אביה ואם אבי אביה ואם אם אבי אביה:

19

If the family whose lineage was disputed were Levites or Israelites, it is necessary to check [the lineage of] another pair of women. Thus one must check ten maternal ancestors.48 [The rationale is that unacceptable people] intermarry among Levites and Israelites more frequently than among priests.

יט

ואם היתה משפחה זו שקרא עליה ערער לוים או ישראלים מוסיף לבדוק להם זוג אחד ונמצא בודק עשר אמהות שהעירוב בלוים וישראלים יתר מן הכהנים:

20

Why is it necessary to check the lineage only of the woman's maternal [ancestors]? Because whenever men argue with each other, one will malign the other with a blemish that exists in his lineage. Thus if he was unacceptable, the matter would have been made known.49 Women, by contrast, do not malign [each other] with regard to blemishes in their lineage.50

כ

ולמה בודק בנשים בלבד מפני שהאנשים כל עת שיריבו זה עם זה יחרף את חבירו בפסול שיש בייחוסו ואילו היה שם פסול היה נשמע אבל הנשים אין מחרפות ביוחסין:

21

Why must a man make an investigation when he desires to marry a woman from a family concerning whom the presumption of acceptable lineage has been impaired and yet a woman who desires to marry into this family is not required to make an investigation? Because woman of acceptable lineage were not warned against marrying [men of] unacceptable lineage.51

כא

ולמה יבדוק האיש כשירצה לישא ממשפחה זו שהורעה חזקתה ולא תבדוק אשה שתנשא להן מפני שלא הוזהרו כשרות להנשא לפסולין:

22

Whenever a person is called a mamzer, a netin a challal, or a servant and he remains silent, we suspect [the lineage of] him and his family52 and do not marry women from this [family] unless an investigation was made as we explained.53

כב

כל שקורין לו ממזר ושותק או נתין ושותק או חלל ושותק או עבד ושותק חוששין לו ולמשפחתו ואין נושאין מהן אא"כ בודקין כמו שביארנו:

23

When there is a suspicion that a person concerning whom there is a question whether he is a challal married into a family,54 every widow from that family is forbidden to a priest at the outset.55 [After the fact,] if she married [a priest], she need not be divorced because there are two questions involved: Maybe this is the widow of that challal56 or maybe it is not? Even if you say that she was his widow, maybe he was a challal or maybe he was not?57

If, however, a person who was definitely a challal married into a family, every woman58 from that family is forbidden to a priest until he conducts an investigation. If he marries [such a woman without an investigation], she must be divorced. The same laws59 apply if a person regarding whom there is a question whether he is a mamzer or a person who is definitely mamzer became intermingled in the family. For the same prohibition applies to the priesthood with regard to the wife of a challal and the wife of a mamzer, as we explained.60

כג

משפחה שנתערב בה ספק חלל כל אלמנה מאותה משפחה אסורה לכהן לכתחלה ואם נשאת לא תצא מפני שהן שתי ספיקות שמא זו אלמנת אותו חלל שמא אינה אלמנתו ואם נאמר שהיא אלמנתו שמא חלל הוא שמא אינו חלל אבל אם נתערב בה חלל ודאי כל אשה מהן אסורה לכהן עד שיבדוק ואם נשאת תצא והוא הדין אם נתערב בה ספק ממזר או ממזר ודאי שאשת ממזר ואשת חלל לכהונה איסור אחד הוא כמו שביארנו:

Footnotes
1.

I.e., the women mentioned in Chapter 17, Halachah 1.

2.

The fact that he engaged in forbidden relations does not detract from the essential holiness endowed to him by his priestly lineage.

3.

For the spiritual blemish brought about by the forbidden relations has an effect regardless of her intent or lack of it.

4.

For only when the male and the female are these respective ages are their relations considered significant.

5.

Note the contrast to the following halachah. Although a non-virgin is forbidden only on the basis of a positive commandment (Chapter 17, Halachah 13), offspring from such a relationship are challalim.

6.

Needless to say, a divorcee may not marry a priest. The Rambam is emphasizing that if she is divorced, in addition to the prohibition of a divorcee, she is also prohibited as a challalah.

7.

For as Ketubot 11a states, a woman who is divorced after marriage is considered as if she has engaged in relations. The Chelkat Mechokek 7:23 and the Beit Shmuel 7:36 discuss this ruling, mentioning views that differ slightly.

8.

For after the fact, he is allowed to remain married to such a woman, as stated in Chapter 17, Halachah 15.

9.

For the prohibition forbidding her to him applies only within the context of marriage (Chapter 17, Halachah 2). Although he performs a transgression for entering into intimacy without the intent of marriage (see Hilchot Ishut 1:4), that prohibition is not restricted to the priesthood and offspring are deemed challalim, only when the prohibition against the relations is exclusive to the priesthood.

10.

Chapter 18, Halachah 1.

11.

Since she became a zonah, the prohibition against relations with her is exclusive to the priesthood.

12.

Chapter 18, Halachah 2. For the relations do involve a transgression.

13.

I.e., relations with a zonah.

14.

For they are forbidden exclusively to the priesthood, as stated in Chapter 18, Halachah 3.

15.

Even if they are conceived during the first time the couple engage in relations [Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:14)]. The rationale is that even before the priest engages in relations with such women, they are deemed as zonot.

16.

As Kiddushin 77a states, the determination of whether a child is deemed as a challal or not depends on whether it was conceived through a transgression or not. The mother's status at the time of birth is not significant.

17.

In Chapter 17, Halachah 7.

18.

Relatives forbidden by Rabbinic decree as listed in Hilchot Ishut 1:6.

19.

See Chapter 18, Halachah 4.

20.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:20) quotes the Rambam's ruling. The Tur and the Rama state that the same laws apply to a woman who underwent a chalitzah ceremony of questionable validity. Based on the distinction between such a woman and a woman whose status is a divorcee is questionable which the Rambam makes in Chapter 17, Halachah 7, the Beit Shmuel 7:40 maintains that the Rambam would not accept such an addition.

21.

See Chapter 17, Halachah 12.

22.

Otherwise, there is a possibility that he will be violating prohibitions of Scriptural origin.

23.

Lest he is an Israelite to whom this is forbidden. See Hilchot Terumah 6:7.

24.

Lest he is a priest to whom this is forbidden.

25.

The prohibition against contact with a corpse.

26.

Chapter 18, Halachah 3.

27.

I.e., those forbidden to the priesthood (Maggid Mishneh). See, however, Halachah 21 and notes.

28.

See Chapter 15, Halachah 7.

29.

Kiddushin 78b states that after the destruction of the Temple, the priests accepted this stringency upon themselves.

30.

Note the Beit Yosef (Even HaEzer 7), the Chelkat Mechokek 7:29 and the Beit Shmuel 7:42 who note that the Rambam requires the girl to be both conceived and born within the Jewish people.

31.

Who is forbidden to marry a native-born Jewess (Chapter 12, Halachah 18).

32.

Who is likewise forbidden (ibid.:19).

33.

Chapter 18, Halachah 3. As Yevamot 36a states, the women themselves may not marry a priest, but their daughters may.

34.

For a female Ammonite is permitted and a third generation Egyptian is permitted.

35.

We have not used the term grandson or great grandson, because if a female descendant is involved, the next generation are not challalim.

36.

Neither the son, nor the daughter are considered challalim.

37.

E.g., there is no restriction against a priest marrying the daughter of a Levite or an Israelite.

38.

Thus in the instance mentioned in the previous note, the offspring would be considered as priests.

39.

I.e., neither a Levite or a challal.

40.

Thus the offspring of a Levite are Levites and the offspring of challalim are challalim.

41.

The Rambam is stating that it is not necessary to investigate thoroughly the lineage of a family before marrying into them. If it is a common presumption that a family is of acceptable lineage, one may marry a family member at the outset. When we know nothing of the lineage of the family, there are some authorities [Remo as quoted by the Tur (Even HaEzer 2)] who maintain that we do question his lineage and require proof that he is acceptable. Others (Rabbenu Asher and Rabbenu Nissim) differ and maintain that even if we do not know anything about a family's lineage, we assume that they are acceptable. See the discussion of the issue by Beit Shmuel 2:3.

The debate concerns the practice in the Talmudic age and in subsequent eras when Jewish observance was strong. At present, particularly in contemporary communities when there are many non-observant Jews and non-halachic divorce and similar problems are rampart, it is customary for Rabbinic courts to be careful and investigate the lineage of people before performing a marriage.

42.

As mentioned in the notes to Chapter 12, Halachah 23, as related in II Samuel, ch. 21, there was a famine for three years in Eretz Yisrael. Through prophetic vision, David learned that the reason for the famine was Saul's oppression of the Gibeonites (exactly what Saul did to oppress them is a matter of discussion among the Rabbis). David asked the Gibeonites what they desired to be appeased for this oppression. They answered that they wanted to slay seven of his descendants. David handed over seven of Saul's descendants to them and they hung them and left their corpses on the gallows. For this act of cruelty, David decreed that they should never marry among the Jewish people.

43.

Joshua, Chapter 9, relates that after the Jews' conquest of Jericho and Ai, the inhabitants of Gibeon:

Acted cunningly... They took old sacks upon their donkeys, old and rent wine bottles... old, worn and patched shoes... and came to Joshua at Gilgal. They told him:... "We have come from a distant country. Therefore, make a covenant with us." Joshua made a covenant with them... and the princes of the congregation swore to them.

After the ruse was discovered, Joshua and the people honored the covenant and allowed the Gibeonites to live. Moreover, they even came to their defense when they were attacked by other Canaanite nations.

44.

The Beit Shmuel 2:6 cites the opinion of Rashi (Kiddushin 76a) which maintains that even if the two people cast aspersions on the family's lineage without delivering formal testimony, such investigations must be made.

45.

We are not concerned that a servant intermingled among them, for even if a servant did conceive a child with a woman from a priestly family, the child is acceptable. Our suspicion is that one of the priests had relations with a maid-servant and she bore him a son or daughter who was raised as a member of the priest's family (Chelkat Mechokek 2:2).

46.

See Halachah 21and notes which discuss whether a woman is required to make such an investigation or not.

47.

I.e., the obligation is to check the lineage of four women: her mother, the mother of her maternal grandfather, her paternal grandmother, and the paternal grandmother of her paternal grandfather. Nevertheless, to verify the acceptability of the lineage of these women, it is necessary to verify that their mothers are also of acceptable lineage, thus reaching a total of eight (Rabbenu Nissim).

48.

I.e., one must add the mother of her maternal grandmother and the maternal grandmother of her paternal grandmother (Merkevet HaMishneh).

The Maggid Mishneh questions the Rambam's statements, noting that from Kiddushin 76a, it would appear that one would have to check the lineage of twelve or sixteen women.

49.

I.e., after the blemish was mentioned in quarrels, it would become a matter of public knowledge and investigated accordingly.

50.

Hence, their blemished lineage would not be public knowledge.

51.

The Rambam's statements (based on his interpretation of Kiddushin 76b) have attracted the attention of the commentaries who raise a basic question: The prohibition against marrying an unacceptable partner (e.g., a mamzer) applies equally to men and women (see Chapter 1, Halachah 1). Why then is a woman not warned with regard to this matter?

The Maggid Mishneh (quoting Rashi's commentary to Kiddushin 76a) states that here, the Rambam intent is that since the Torah did not forbid a woman of the priestly family from marrying a challal, our Sages did not require a woman to make an investigation even when there is a question whether her future husband is entirely unacceptable.

According to Rashi who interprets "disputing a family's lineage" (Halachah 18) as merely casting aspersions, this interpretation is tenable. After all, we have no hard and fast evidence that the man's lineage is unacceptable. But according to the Rambam, who defines that term as referring to testimony delivered in court, the original question remains. Since there is a firm possibility that a Scriptural prohibition is involved, why shouldn't a woman be required to make an investigation? Among the resolutions offered is that of the Chelkat Mechokek 2:5 is that the Rambam would require an investigation even when a woman desires to marry. Nevertheless, the investigation need not include all of the eight (or ten) women mentioned by the Rambam. Such thoroughness is required only when a man seeks to marry.

See the gloss of the Maggid Mishneh to Halachah 18 and the Chelkat Mechokek 2:3 which cite differing opinions which also require a woman to make a full-fledged investigation of the lineage of a man she desires to marry if there are questions concerning his lineage.

52.

We assume that he would not remain silent when his lineage is slurred unless there was some truth to the assertions.

The Ra'avad states that the Rambam's statement (taken from Ketubot 14b) held true only in the Talmudic era when a person who insulted a colleague's lineage was placed under a ban of ostracism. Hence when a person remained silent instead of appealing to the court, we could assume that he was admitting to the accuser's assertion. In the present era, by contrast, there is no punishment given for making such slurs. Hence, the insulted person would have no benefit in bringing the matter to the court's attention. Accordingly, it is preferable to remain silent.

The Ramban and the Rashba explain that the Rambam's words apply with regard to a family concerning which there already exist doubts with regard to their lineage. When, by contrast, their lineage is considered unblemished, it is preferable for them to remain silent. Rabbenu Nissim states that the insulted person's silence is considered significant only when it is common for him to protest other matters. If, however, he usually remains silent, the fact that he does so in this situation as well is of no consequence. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 2:4) quotes the Rambam's words and the Rama quotes the latter views.

53.

As explained in Halachot 18-19. The investigation is sufficient to clarify any difficulties, for the suspicion created by his silence is not a more serious factor than the testimony of the witnesses mentioned in Halachah 18 (Maggid Mishneh).

54.

I.e., there is a report that a man of questionable status married into a family, but the identity of that man and that of his wife are not known.

55.

One might think that because of the multiple doubt involved the woman would be permitted at the outset. Nevertheless, because of the stringency of the laws of proper lineage, this leniency is not taken.

56.

And as is stated in Chapter 18, Halachah 1, a woman who engaged in relations with a challal is forbidden to the priesthood.

57.

Since there is a multiple doubt (sefek sefeikah), the woman is permitted.

58.

I.e., both widows and daughters (Kessef Mishneh).

59.

I.e., the first clause applies to a person's whose status as a mamzer is a matter of question and the second clause to whose unacceptable status is definite (Kessef Mishneh).

In his Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Caro mentions opinions that rule more stringently and forbid marriage even when there is a report that a person about whom a question was raised whether or not he is a mamzer married into a family. In his Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 2:5), however, he quotes the Rambam's view.

60.

Chapter 18, Halachah 1.

Issurei Biah - Chapter Twenty

1

[The status of] all of the priests of the present era1 is accepted on the basis of a prevailing assumption.2 They may only eat sacred food that is eaten [within] the boundaries [of Eretz Yisrael],3 provided it is terumah mandated by virtue of Rabbinic decree [alone].4 [Even] terumah mandated by Scriptural Law and challah mandated by Scriptural Law, by contrast, may be eaten only by a priest whose lineage is established.

א

כל כהנים בזמן הזה בחזקה הם כהנים ואין אוכלין אלא בקדשי הגבול והוא שתהיה תרומה של דבריהם אבל תרומה של תורה וחלה של תורה אין אוכל אותה אלא כהן מיוחס:

2

What is meant by a priest whose lineage is established? Anyone concerning whom two witnesses5 testify that he is a priest, the son of so-and-so the priest, and the descendant of so-and-so the priest, extending back until we reach a person whose lineage need not be checked, i.e., a priest who served at the altar. [Such a person's lineage need not be verified, because] were the High Court not to have made investigations about him, they would not have allowed him to perform service [in the Temple].6

Accordingly, we do not investigate the lineage of anyone who served at the altar or who served on the Sanhedrin. For only priests, Levites, and Israelites of acceptable lineage are appointed to the Sanhedrin.7

ב

אי זהו כהן מיוחס כל שהעידו לו שני עדים שהוא כהן בן פלוני הכהן ופלוני בן פלוני הכהן עד איש שאינו צריך בדיקה והוא הכהן ששימש על גבי המזבח שאילו לא בדקו בית דין הגדול אחריו לא היו מניחין אותו לעבוד לפיכך אין בודקין מהמזבח ומעלה ולא מן הסנהדרין ומעלה שאין ממנין בסנהדרין אלא כהנים לויים וישראלים מיוחסין:

3

In the present era, even in Eretz Yisrael,8 challah does not have the status of a Scriptural commandment. [This is derived from Numbers 15:18:] "When you come into the land...."9 [Implied is when] all of you enter and not when only a portion enter.10 When Ezra ascended [to Eretz Yisrael], the entire people did not ascend.

Similarly, in the present era, terumah is a Rabbinic commandment.11 Therefore it is eaten by the priests of our era [whose lineage is established merely] by presumption.

ג

חלה בזמן הזה ואפילו בארץ ישראל אינה של תורה שנאמר בבואכם אל הארץ ביאת כולכם ולא ביאת מקצתכם וכשעלו בימי עזרא לא עלו כולם וכן תרומה בזמן הזה של דברי סופרים ולפיכך אוכלים אותה הכהנים שבזמנינו שהן בחזקה:

4

When two witnesses testify that they saw a person partaking of terumah mandated by Scriptural Law, his lineage is established. We do not elevate a person [to the level that his priestly] lineage is [considered as] established based on the fact that he delivers the Priestly Blessing [to the people], reads the Torah first,12 or is given terumah in the granaries,13 or because of the testimony of one witness.

ד

מי שהעידו עליו [שני] עדים שראוהו שהיה אוכל בתרומה של תורה הרי זה מיוחס ואין מעלין ליוחסין לא מנשיאת כפים ולא מקריאה בתורה ראשון ולא מחילוק תרומה בבית הגרנות ולא על פי עד אחד:

5

When a priest whose lineage was established says: "This son of mine is a priest," we do not consider [the son as a priest whose] lineage is established14on the basis of his statement unless he brings witnesses who testify that the child is his son.15

ה

כהן מיוחס שאמר בני זה כהן הוא אין מעלין אותו ליוחסין על פיו עד שיביא עדים שהוא בנו:

6

[The following laws apply when] a priest whose lineage has been established departs to another country together with his wife whom we know to be of acceptable lineage. If he comes together with her and children who relate to them as parents and says: "This is the woman who departed together with me and these are her children," he does not have to bring witnesses to testify about the woman or the children.

[If he says:] "She died and these are her children," he must bring witnesses who testify that these are his children.16 He need not bring witnesses that his wife was of acceptable lineage, for her status as being acceptable was already established when she departed from us.

ו

כהן מיוחס שיצא הוא ואשתו שידענו שהיא כשרה למדינה אחרת ובא הוא והיא ובנים כרוכין אחריהן ואמר אשה שיצאת עמי היא זו ואלו בניה אינו צריך להביא עדים לא על האשה ולא על הבנים מתה ואלו בניה צריך להביא עדים שאלו בניו ואינו צריך להביא עדים על אמן שהיא כשרה מפני שכבר הוחזק שיצאה מעמנו כאשה כשרה:

7

When a priest whose lineage was established goes out to another country and comes together with his wife and his sons, saying: "I married this woman and these are her sons," he must bring proof that the woman is acceptable. He does not have to bring witnesses that these are her sons, provided the children relate to her as a mother.

If he comes together with two wives and brings proof regarding one, he is required to bring proof about the sons, even though the children are young and relate to her as a mother. For perhaps they are the sons of the other women, but relate to the woman whose lineage is established as a mother.

ז

יצא כהן מיוחס למדינה אחרת ובא הוא ואשתו ובניו ואמר אשה זו נשאתי ואלו בניה צריך להביא ראיה שאשה זו כשרה ואינו מביא עדים שאלו בניה והוא שיהיו כרוכין אחריה ואם בא בשתי נשים והביא ראיה על האחת אף על פי שהבנים קטנים וכרוכין אחריה צריך להביא ראיה עליהם שמא בניו מן האחרת הם ונכרכו אחר זו המיוחסת:

8

If he comes together with sons and says: "I married a woman and she died. These are her sons," he must bring witnesses that the woman was acceptable and that these are her sons." These laws also apply with regard to an Israelite of established lineage and a Levite of established lineage. Afterwards, we can testify with regard to this son so that he will be fit for the Sanhedrin.17

ח

בא הוא ובניו ואמר אשה נשאתי ומתה ואלו בניה מביא עדים שאותה האשה כשרה היתה ואלו בניה וכדין הזה דנין בישראל מיוחס ובלוי מיוחס ואח"כ נעיד על בנו זה שהוא מיוחס כדי שיהיה ראוי לסנהדרין:

9

We do not elevate a person's lineage [based on mention in] a document to the priesthood. What is implied? If it is stated in a document: "So-and-so, the priest, borrowed from so-and-so this-and-this amount," and witnesses sign below, we do not operate under the assumption that this priest is of acceptable lineage. For perhaps, they signed only with regard to the loan.18

With regard to what does the above apply? With regard to considering the person as a priest of acceptable lineage. [Different principles apply] with regard to the presumption that he is a priest like the other priests of the present age and license to partake of terumah and challah mandated by Rabbinic decree and to be given other sacred articles [granted priests within] the boundaries [of Eretz Yisrael].19 [These privileges are granted on the basis of] mention in a legal document, the testimony of one witness, or the fact that a person recites the priestly blessing or reads the Torah first.

ט

אין מעלין משטרות לכהונה כיצד הרי שהיה כתוב בשטר פלוני כהן לוה מפלוני והלוהו כך וכך והעדים מלמטה אין מחזיקין בהם כהן זה שהוא מיוחס שמא לא העידו אלא על המלוה בד"א לענין ייחוס אבל לחזקה שיהיה כהן ככהני זמן זה ויאכל תרומה וחלה של דברי סופרים ובשאר קדשי הגבול מעלין מן השטרות וע"פ עד אחד ומנשיאות כפים ומקריאה בתורה ראשון:

10

Similarly, whenever a priest says: "My son is a priest," his word is accepted with regard to feeding him terumah20 and having him accepted as a priest.21 He need not bring proof regarding his sons or his wife.

י

וכן כל כהן שאמר בני זה כהן נאמן להאכילו בתרומה ולהיותו בחזקת כהן ואינו צריך להביא ראיה לא על הבנים ולא על האשה:

11

When two people come to a particular city, one says: "I and my colleague are priests," and the other says, "I and my colleague are priests," their word is accepted and they are both considered as priests22 even though it appears that they are in collusion.23

Similarly, if one witness says: "I saw this person recite the Priestly Blessing," "...eat terumah, "...received terumah in the granary," or "...read first from the Torah and a Levi read after him,"24 he is considered a priest on the basis of this statement. Similarly, if one testified that a person read second from the Torah after a priest, he is considered as a Levite.

יא

שנים שבאו למדינה זה אומר אני וחבירי כהן וזה אומר אני וחבירי כהן אע"פ שנראין כגומלין זה את זה הרי אלו נאמנין ושניהם בחזקת כהנים וכן עד שאמר ראיתי זה שנשא כפיו או שאכל בתרומה או שחלק על הגורן או שקרא בתורה ראשון וקרא אחריו לוי מחזיקין אותו בכהונה על פיו וכן אם העיד שזה קרא שני בתורה אחר כהן מחזיקין אותו בלויה:

12

If one delivers testimony in court saying that he saw a person and his brothers divide terumah left to them by their father the priest, we do not consider him a priest because of this testimony. Perhaps he is a challal and took his portion of the inheritance of terumah in order to sell it.

יב

העיד שראה זה שחלק עם אחיו בבית דין תרומה שהניח להן אביהן הכהן אין מעלין אותו לכהונה בעדות זו שמא חלל הוא ולקח חלק ירושתו מתרומה למכרה:

13

In the present era, when a person comes and says: "I am a priest," his word is not accepted and we do not consider him a priest on the basis of his own statements. He should not read from the Torah first, recite the Priestly Blessing,25or partake of sacred food that is eaten [within] the boundaries [of Eretz Yisrael] unless there is one witness who corroborates his statements.

He does, however, cause himself to be forbidden [to marry] a divorcee, a zonah, and a challalah; nor may he become impure because of contact with a corpse.26 If he marries such a woman or becomes impure, he receives lashes.27 A woman [who may not marry into the priesthood] who engages in relations with him is deemed a challalah of questionable status.28

יג

מי שבא בזמן הזה ואמר כהן אני אינו נאמן ואין מעלין אותו לכהונה על פי עצמו ולא יקרא בתורה ראשון ולא ישא את כפיו ולא יאכל בקדשי הגבול עד שיהיה לו עד אחד אבל אוסר עצמו בגרושה וזונה וחללה ואינו מטמא למתים ואם נשא או נטמא לוקה והנבעלת (לו) ספק חללה:

14

If the person makes these statements in the course of conversation, his word is accepted.29

What is implied? An incident once took place with regard to a person who was speaking in the midst of conversation, saying: "I remember that when I was an infant and was being carried on my shoulders by father, they took me out of school,30removed my outer garment, and had me immerse in the mikveh to partake of terumah in the evening. My colleagues separated themselves from my and called me: 'Yochanan, who eats challot.' Our holy teacher31 had him considered a priest on the basis of these statements.

יד

ואם היה מסיח לפי תומו נאמן כיצד מעשה באחד שהיה מסיח לפי תומו ואמר זכור אני כשהייתי תינוק והייתי מורכב על כתיפו של אבי הוציאוני מבית הספר והפשיטוני כתנתי והטבילוני לאכול תרומה לערב וחביריי בודלין ממני והיו קוראין אותי יוחנן אוכל חלות והעלהו רבינו הקדוש לכהונה ע"פ עצמו:

15

An adult's word is accepted if he says: "I remember when I was a child32 and I saw so-and-so immerse himself in a mikveh and partake of terumah in the evening." He is considered a priest on the basis of this statement.

In the present era, when a person comes and says: "I am a priest," and a witness testifies on his behalf, saying: "I know that his father is a priest," we do not consider him as a priest on the basis of this testimony. [We fear that] perhaps he is a challal.33 Instead, [the witness] must testify that the person himself is a priest. If, however, the father's identity as a priest is an established fact or two witnesses come and testify that the person's father is a priest, because of his father, we assume [that he is a priest].

טו

נאמן גדול לומר זכור אני כשהייתי תינוק וראיתי פלוני טובל ואוכל בתרומה לערב ומחזיקין אותו בכהונה בעדותו מי שבא בזמן הזה ואמר כהן אני ועד אחד מעיד לו שאני יודע שאביו של זה כהן אין מעלין אותו לכהונה בעדות זה שמא חלל הוא עד שיעיד שזה כהן הוא אבל אם הוחזק אביו כהן או שבאו שנים והעידו שאביו של זה כהן הרי הוא בחזקת אביו:

16

When the identity of a person's father as a priest has been established, but there is a rumor34 that he is the son of a divorcee or the son of a woman who performed chalitzah, we entertain suspicions and do not treat him as a priest. If one witness comes and testifies that he is acceptable, we treat him as a priest because of his statements.35 If two witnesses come afterwards and testify that he is a challal, we remove him from the priesthood.36

If another witness comes and testifies that he is acceptable, we treat him as a priest, because the last witness is joined together with the first.37 Thus there are two witnesses testifying that he is acceptable and two testifying that he is unacceptable. Both pairs of witness and the rumor are voided, for two witnesses have the same legal power as 100.38 And the person remains a priest based on the status of his father.39

טז

מי שהוזחק אביו כהן ויצא עליו קול שהוא בן גרושה או חלוצה חוששין לו ומורידין אותו בא עד אחד אחר כך והעיד שהוא כשר מעלין אותו לכהונה על פיו באו שנים עדים אח"כ והעידו שהוא חלל מורידין אותו מן הכהונה בא עד אחד והעיד שהוא כשר מעלין אותו לכהונה שזה האחרון מצטרף לעד ראשון והרי שנים מעידין שהוא כשר ושנים מעידים שהוא פסול ידחו אלו ואלו וידחה הקול שהשנים כמאה וישאר כהן בחזקת אביו:

17

[The following law applies] when a woman [remarried] without waiting three months after [the death of] her [first] husband40 and gave birth. If it is not known whether the child was conceived by the first - and born after nine months - or conceived by the second - and born after seven - and one of them was a priest and the other, an Israelite, the child is a priest of questionable status.

Similarly, if a son of a priest became intermingled with a child of an Israelite41 and they grow to maturity, they are both considered priests of questionable status. They must observe the stringencies incumbent on Israelites and the stringencies incumbent on priests: They may only marry women fit to marry into the priesthood. They may not become impure through contact with the dead, nor may they partake of terumah. If they marry a divorcee, they are forced to divorce and they do not receive lashes.42

יז

אשה שלא שהתה שלשה חדשים אחר בעלה וילדה ואין ידוע אם בן תשעה לראשון או בן שבעה לאחרון והיה אחד מהן כהן והשני ישראל הרי זה ספק כהן וכך אם נתערב ולד כהן בולד ישראל והגדילו התערובות כל אחד מהן ספק כהן ונותנין עליהן חומרי ישראל וחומרי כהנים נושאין נשים הראויות לכהונה ואין מטמאים למתים ולא אוכלין בתרומה ואם נשאו גרושה מוציאין ואינן לוקין:

18

[The following rules apply] if the sons of two priests become intermingled or the wife of a priest married a second priest without waiting three months after the death of her first husband and it is not known whether the child was conceived by the first - and born after nine months - or conceived by the second - and born after seven. The stringencies that would apply as if he was the son of both men must be observed: He must observe the rights of aninut43 because of [both44 of] them45 and they [both] observe the rights of aninut because of him.46 He may not become impure because of them, nor may they become impure because of him.47 He may serve in the priestly watch48 of both of them, but does not receive a portion.49 If they are both from the same priestly watch and the same beit av,50 he receives one portion.51

יח

שני כהנים שנתערבו ולדותיהם או אשת כהן שלא שהתה אחר בעלה שלשה חדשים ונשאת לכהן אחר ואין ידוע אם בן תשעה לראשון או בן שבעה לאחרון נותנין לו על הולד חומרי שניהם הוא אונן עליהם והן אוננין עליו הוא אין מטמא להם והם אינן מטמאין לו ועולה במשמרו של זה ושל זה ואין חולק ואם היו שניהם במשמר אחד ובית אב אחד נוטל חלק אחד:

19

When does the above apply? When the relationships with both [priests] involve marriage. If, however, one is a licentious relationship, our Sages decreed that [the son's] priestly privileges are suppressed entirely, because he does not have definitive knowledge of the identity of his father. [This is supported by Numbers 25:13]:52 "He and his descendants who follow him will possess [the covenant of priesthood]." [Implied is that] his descendants will be able to trace their identity to him.

יט

במה דברים אמורים בזמן שהן באין מכח נישואין אבל בזנות גזרו חכמים שמשתקין אותו מדין כהונה כלל הואיל ואינו יודע אביו הודאי שנאמר והיתה לו ולזרעו אחריו עד שיהיה זרעו מיוחס אחריו:

20

What is implied? There were ten priests. One of them departed and engaged in relations [with a woman without revealing his identity]. The son is definitely a priest.53 Nevertheless, since he does not know his father's identity and cannot trace his lineage to him, his priestly privileges are suppressed entirely. He may not serve [in the Temple], partake [of sacrificial foods], or receive an allotment [from the sacrifices]. If, however, he becomes impure because of contact with a corpse or he marries a divorcee, he receives lashes, for there is no question of leniency.54

כ

כיצד עשרה כהנים שפירש אחד מהם ובעל שהרי הולד כהן ודאי ואף על פי כן הואיל ואינו יודע אביו שיתייחס לו משתקין אותו מדין כהונה ואינו עובד ולא אוכל ולא חולק ואם נטמא למתים או נשא גרושה לוקה שאין כאן ספק היתר:

Footnotes
1.

When the priests do not serve in the Temple and there is no Sanhedrin to verify their lineage.

2.

I.e., they are regarded as priests by people at large even though there is no definite proof of their lineage.

3.

I.e., in contrast to sacrificial meat which may be eaten only in the Temple courtyard or within the city of Jerusalem depending on the type of sacrifice involved.

4.

As explained in Halachah 3, in the present age, the mitzvah of terumah has the status of a Rabbinic commandment. As reflected by the commentaries to Hilchot Terumah 2:1, according to the Rambam, Scriptural Law requires us to separate terumah from all types of produce usually eaten by humans. The mitzvah does not apply only to the grain, grapes, and olives singled out by Deuteronomy 18:4.

5.

Note the Maggid Mishneh who elaborates, explaining that although generally, the testimony of one witness is sufficient with regard to issues involving Scriptural prohibitions, an exception is made with regard to terumah.

6.

See the conclusion of the tractate of Middot and Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 6:11, which describes the manner in which the lineage of the priests was checked.

7.

See Hilchot Sanhedrin 2:1.

8.

As the Rambam explains in Hilchot Bikkurim 5:5,7, in the Biblical era, there was a distinction between the mitzvah of challah as observed in Eretz Yisrael and as observed in the Diaspora. For according to Scriptural Law, the mitzvah applies only in Eretz Yisrael.

9.

The continuation of the verse describes the mitzvah to separate challah.

10.

As the Rambam explains in Hilchot Terumah 1:26 and Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 6:16, after the conquest of Eretz Yisrael by Assyrians and the Babylonians the sanctity of the land was nullified and there was no obligation to keep the agricultural laws of Eretz Yisrael. When Ezra led the people back to Eretz Yisrael after the 70 years of the Babylonian exile, the majority of the people did not accompany him. (Moreover, he did not conquer the land.) Hence, his sanctification of Eretz Yisrael was not sufficient to meet the requirements of Scriptural Law. Nevertheless, he and his court ruled that those mitzvot should be observed as a Rabbinic ordinance.

This reflects the Rambam's view. Although other Rishonim (Ra'avad, Rav Moshe HaCohen) differ and maintain that Ezra's settlement of the land was sufficient to sanctify it according to Scriptural Law, the Rambam's approach is accepted by most authorities.

11.

The Rambam maintains that the laws regarding terumah and the tithes are derived from those applying to challah (Kessef Mishneh to Hilchot Terumah 1:26).

12.

In the Talmudic era - as is still the practice in certain communities - when a person was given an aliyah, he would read the Torah himself, rather than have it read for him by others.

13.

Although all of these practices are signs of the priesthood, we do not consider them as conclusive evidence of a priest's lineage.

14.

The Maggid Mishneh explains that the Rambam's words could be interpreted to mean that the child is considered a priest with regard to marriage. Nevertheless, he does not possess the advantage of being considered of established lineage unless testimony is given.

15.

The father's statement is, however, sufficient to have considered as a priest with regards to matters applicable in the present age, as stated in Halachah 10.

16.

More precisely, that they are the sons borne him by his deceased wife.

17.

And his daughters fit to marry priests.

18.

And did not pay attention to the fact the person was described as a priest.

19.

E.g., the sheep exchanged in place of a donkey, the first shearing of a sheep, and the like.

20.

This refers even to terumah mandated by Scriptural Law. Ketubot 25b explains that this ruling is based on the principle of miggo. If the priest desired to transgress, he could feed his son terumahwithout having him declared a priest. See also Halachah 3.

21.

To be given an aliyah first and to bless the people.

22.

For the testimony of one witness is effective.

23.

And there is room to suspect that each is lying on the others behalf.

24.

If a Levi did not read after him, the fact that he read first is not significant. For perhaps there were no priests present and an Israelite was called instead or he was given the honor because of his stature as a Torah scholar.

25.

The Maggid Mishneh explains that the above are forbidden him, because - as stated in Halachah 9 - when an observer sees a person performing such acts, he may consider that person a priest.

Rav Moshe Cohen and the Rama (Even HaEzer 3:1) maintain that, in the present era, it is customary to accept a person's word if he claims to be a priest. For the only serious problem with regard to observance is partaking of terumah and we do not separate terumah in the present age. Note the Chelkat Mechokek 3:1 who raises questions regarding the license for this person to recite the Priestly Blessing. See also the Maggid Mishneh who mentions that this custom was also practiced in his era. He strongly protests against it, calling it "an erroneous custom."

26.

Since he considers himself a priest, it is as if he has taken a vow not to perform these activities.

27.

The commentaries have questioned this statement, for it has not been formally established that the person is a priest. Nevertheless, since he considers himself a priest, as far as he is concerned, the warning given him will be have been of substance and the punishment deserved. Hence he is given the lashes. The woman is not given lashes, for as far as she is concerned, the matter is not definitely established (Maggid Mishneh).

28.

Hence if another priest engages in relations with her, he is not given lashes. Her offspring are also challalim of questionable status and her daughter may not marry into the priesthood (Maggid Mishneh; Chelkat Mechokek 3:3).

29.

He is allowed to partake of terumah mandated by Rabbinic decree, for his statements are given the weight of the testimony of one witness.

30.

This is proof that he was not a servant, for servants are not taught the Torah (Tosafot, Ketubot 26a).

31.

Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi.

32.

Generally, for testimony to be valid, the person observing the matter must be acceptable as a witness. In this instance, however, formal testimony is not required. Hence leniency is shown. (See Hilchot Edut 14:3).

33.

This applies even if there are no rumors that the person's mother is not acceptable (Maggid Mishneh). The Chelkat Mechokek 3:9 quotes other authorities who are more lenient.

34.

We are not speaking about mere hearsay, but a rumor that is substantiated by the court.

35.

For the testimony of one witness is powerful enough to negate the rumor.

36.

Because the testimony of one witness is of no consequence in the face of the testimony of two witnesses.

37.

The fact that the two witnesses do not testify at the same time is not significant (Hilchot Edut 4:4).

38.

I.e., the intent is that once two witnesses give testimony in court, their statement is given the weight of established fact and needs no further corroboration. Since the statements of the two pairs of witnesses contradict each other, they are both nullified. Nevertheless, the statements of the witnesses who testify that he is acceptable also have the power to nullify the rumor.

39.

The Maggid Mishneh mentions that there is a difference of opinion among the Rabbis if he is considered acceptable only with regard to terumah mandated by Rabbinic Law or also with regard to terumah mandated by Scriptural Law. The Beit Shmuel 3:14 states that the Rambam is also referring to terumah mandated by Rabbinic Law.

40.

A woman is required to wait for such an interim so that the lineage of her children will be established definitively.

41.

I.e., as infants, the identity of the children became confused and the doubt was never clarified.

42.

They are not given lashes, because it is not certain that they violated a Scriptural commandment. They should, however, be given "stripes for rebellious conduct," because of their disregard of the restrictions the Rabbis placed upon them [Perisha (Even HaEzer 3)].

43.

This term refers to the state of acute morning that applies immediately after the death of one's close relative. See Hilchot Evel 4:6. It is particularly relevant to priests, for one is forbidden to serve in the Temple or partake of sacrificial foods in a state of aninut (Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 2:6-10 ).

44.

Yevamot 100b notes a difficulty in the use of the plural in both this and the following clause. Since the ordinary way the mother of this priest could have married a second priest is when her first husband died, how is it possible to speak about the son mourning for that first husband or that first husband mourning for him?

The Talmud answers that this is speaking about a situation where the mother thought she was consecrated to the first husband, but in fact was not. This is not considered a licentious relationship warranting the stringencies mentioned in the following halachah. A formal divorce, however, is not required and hence the woman may marry another priest.

The Maggid Mishneh explains that according to the Rambam, one can also interpret the passage as referring to a woman whose father died in her childhood and who was married by Rabbinic decree. Until she attains majority, she may dissolve that marriage through the rite of mi'un. In such an instance, a formal divorce is not required. If she conceives a child, dissolves her marriage, and then marries another priest, the situation mentioned in this halachah may apply.

45.

For perhaps that person is his father. Rashi (Yevamot, loc. cit.) interprets this statement as referring to the restrictions placed upon priests for aninut. Since it is possible that the person who died is his father, he should not risk the violation of a Scriptural commandment. With regard to the customs concerning aninut mentioned in Hilchot Evel (one of them being that one does not perform any of the Torah's mitzvot), by contrast, Kinat Eliyahu raises a question: Should one refrain from performing a mitzvah because perhaps the person who died was his father?

46.

For perhaps he is their son.

47.

There is a Scriptural prohibition against a priest becoming impure. That prohibition does not apply when one is certain that the person who died is one's relative. In this instance, however, neither the father or son is certain.

48.

The priests were divided into 24 watches. Each one would serve in the Temple for a week in a cycle of rotation (Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 4:3). This priest has the right to serve during the week allotted to both of the individuals suspected of being his father.

49.

In this instance, we are speaking of expropriating property (a share in the sacrifices) from the other priests. Hence we follow the principle: When a person seeks to expropriate property, the burden of proof is upon him.

50.

Each priestly watch was divided into seven batei av, family groupings, who would serve in the Temple one day of the seven (Hilchot K'lei HaMikdash 4:11).

51.

For he is certainly entitled to one portion.

52.

Yevamot, loc. cit., explains that this interpretation is not of Scriptural origin. Instead, the law is a Rabbinic decree. Our Sages, however, found a Biblical verse that supported their ruling.

53.

Because all the individuals suspected of being his father were priests.

54.

For he is definitely a priest and must observe the prohibitions incumbent upon them.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in the one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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